In Poetry Month,
Links to articles on race
Come with a haiku
Ta-Nehisi Coates is thinking about Confederate History Month, and brings us a photo and descriptions of recently-emancipated slaves from an 1864 edition of Harper’s Weekly—and like everything we’ve been reading about the census, it’s a telling glimpse into America’s racial makeup and mixtures: “Rebecca Huger is eleven years old, and was a slave in her father’s house, the special attendant of a girl a little older than herself. To all appearance she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of negro blood.”
Anyone who loves books loves libraries, and even though they’re worth celebrating year-round, it’s especially important now. Why? Well, for one it’s National Library Week. Ironically, we’re also in the midst of a huge round of budget cuts for libraries all over the country. Time’s growing short, but it’s not too late to let your public officials know how important libraries are to all of us! The ALA has a quick and easy way to show your support:
1. Please go to http://capwiz.com/ala/ and click on “call your senators now to support library funding.”
2. Scroll down and customize the sample email message as you see fit — remember, a brief but personal story on how your library helps your community matters the most! Change the subject heading to “please sign the Dear Appropriator letter for libraries.”
3. Enter your contact information.
It’s poetry month! What better time to share our favorite poetry?
Mine skews towards narrative poetry, and especially toward works written before the development of the novel:
Beowulf — particularly the Seamus Heaney translation, which combines beautiful words and flowing language with the exciting, bloody story.
The census, however flawed and necessary it may be, has triggered some great writing and thinking about race and how we define ourselves. From CNN we have two great essays: journalist and filmmaker Raquel Cepeda writes on being Latino and the stories her family has told of their mixed heritage, and author Walter Mosley brings us a poetic look at the 10,000 years of history that led to him.
Author Chang-Rae Lee speaks about what box he’s going to check on his census, and how little it says about him:
“Mary and I set up our house on the bottom bookshelf in the living room. We use matchboxes for tiny beds and make a desk out of toothpicks.”
—Only One Year
So begins Sharon and Mary’s slow building of a miniature house, which they add to, improve, and modify for months.
Digital books will directly impact the work we do here at LEE & LOW, so I took the plunge and purchased a Kindle so I could gain a hands-on understanding of what the reading experience was like compared to the paper books we know and love.
I have read my last five books on the Kindle and here are my thoughts:
Since the screen on the Kindle is smaller than the pages of most books, and there is a magnification feature that can enlarge the text shown, the reading experience is a fast one, because there are fewer words per “page.” On the Kindle I feel like I’m flying through chapters, and since I have always considered myself a slow reader, the momentum of plowing through a book is kind of exhilarating.
Starting off with some despiriting news: in the wake of the Health Care Reform debate, several black congressmen, including John Lewis, have been called racial slurs and one was even spat on by protesters.
At Love Isn’t Enough, there’s a great piece on DNA and identity. It adds another layer to the discussions on being biracial and multiracial we’ve been having, because it looks at how little we know about our own personal genetic and racial makeup, but how much we know about our own personal cultural makeup.
For your watching pleasure, Colbert’s best comments on race collected in one four-minute clip: